Shedding many of those trappings that make a James Bond movie well a James Bond movie Quantum of Solace is really the first sequel ever in the long-running series. While it’s always exciting something gets seriously shaken and stirred in the translation. Picking up exactly where the brilliant Casino Royale left off we see Bond (Daniel Craig) trying to get to the bottom of why his love Vesper Lynd had to die jumping right into the first of many MANY chases as he traverses six countries. Still on rogue patrol Bond then inadvertently meets the crafty and gorgeous Camille (Olga Kurylenko) who introduces Bond to the evil Dominic Green (Mathieu Amalric) the head of an eco-phony stealth operation angling for some prime desert land while financing a crooked Bolivian general’s planned coup. With the ever resourceful M (Judi Dench) trying to keep him in line at all times Bond must put his revenge plans on hold as he crosses paths not only with Greene and his fake pro-environment front but also the intriguing and mysterious group known as Quantum. In this outing Daniel Craig -- leaner and meaner than any previous Bond -- really becomes a man of single-minded determination and grit. He’s less like the James Bond we know and love and more a humorless killing machine like Jason Bourne (those two should really get together). Still Craig is such a compelling actor that we are with him all the way even if he doesn’t go for the suave Bond moves. Olga Kurylenko is a great foil but not totally in the tradition of a Bond girl. A later encounter with Gemma Arterton as a British agent in Bolivia does however briefly recall the heyday of Goldfinger. Judi Dench has taken the perfunctory role of M and turned it into a full-blown supporting role. Her dry wit and take-no-prisoners attitude is welcomed every time she shows up on screen. French star Mathieu Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) doesn’t really pull off his villainous alter-ego ecologist while Jeffrey Wright is pretty much wasted as U.S. agent Felix Leiter. At least Giancarlo Giannini returns for some nice moments with his Craig. Although they usually leave the challenging job of steering the Bond ship to an English director oddly this time the baton was handed to Marc Forster known more for his intimate dramas such as Finding Neverland and Monster's Ball. His grip on the action sequences is secure but he never really seems to have a handle on what distinguishes this legendary movie spy from everyone else. There’s a reason Bond has survived as a screen icon for almost half a century but the sort of workman-like filmmaking Forster displays here does not represent 007’s finest hour. It’s almost like the producers had a checklist: car chase on winding roads; boat chase; airplane chase; rooftop chase -- all check. Quantum of Solace is definitely worth checking out however. I mean it IS Bond and we wait for these movies on bated breath. Just maybe next time a little less Bourne please.
The Super Bowl sacked Hollywood over the weekend with a gross of only about $6.2 million being enough to grab first place.
There was a close race for top honors among Destination Films' opening of its thriller "Eye Of the Beholder," Universal's Oscar contender "The Hurricane" and New Line's urban-appeal comedy sequel "Next Friday." As always, Monday's actual numbers could reverse today's estimated results.
Although Destination's "Eye" appeared to have the weekend's best score with about $6.2 million, it was not an impressive one.
"There was no No. 1 film in 1999 lower than $9 million," one studio distribution president said Sunday morning, looking back at the record books. "That was 'The Best Man' (the weekend of) Oct. 22-24, 1999, with $9.03 million. In 1998, the lowest-grossing No. 1 film was 'He Got Game' (the weekend of) May 1-3 with $7.6 million."
As far as the total for key films, he added, "This looks like $60 million at best, all in. That would be the lowest, probably, since last April 23-25 with $57.2 million." (The weekend estimated total wound up getting to about $62.7 million thanks to a number of slightly higher estimates across the board plus a big boost from Buena Vista/Disney's IMAX release of "Fantasia," which added $1.92 million to the total.)
It was the second consecutive weekend with no films cracking double-digits, as Hollywood insiders anticipated. The last time there were back-to-back weekends with single-digit grosses, according to Exhibitor Relations President Paul Dergarabedian, was October 1998. New Line's "Pleasantville" was No. 1 the weekend of Oct. 23-25 with $8.8 million. Sony's "John Carpenter's Vampires" placed first the next weekend (Oct. 30-Nov. 1) with $9.1 million.
Destination Films, which opened its R-rated psychological thriller "Eye of the Beholder," had not reported an estimate for the film by mid-morning today. Reports from the gross-tracking source Entertainment Data Inc. put it in first place with an unexciting estimated $6.21 million at 1,673 theaters ($3,712 per theater).
Directed by Stephan Elliott, it stars Ewan McGregor and Ashley Judd. Its story revolves around an intelligence agent (McGregor) obsessed with his very seductive prey (Judd).
Despite Judd's previous success with Paramount's "Double Jeopardy," which has grossed about $115 million, most distribution sources said they had very reduced expectations for "Eye." Destination reportedly picked up the independently made film for domestic release for about $4 million.
Universal's critically acclaimed R-rated drama "The Hurricane," which had been third the previous week, packed a powerful punch to tie for second place -- holding incredibly well despite Super Bowl competition for male moviegoers -- with a solid estimated $6 million (-8%) at 2,135 theaters (+34 theaters, $2,800 per theater). Its total is approximately $31.2 million.
Directed by Norman Jewison, it stars Denzel Washington as wrongly imprisoned boxing champion Rubin "Hurricane" Carter.
Helping to drive "Hurricane" was its Golden Globe victory for best actor/drama (Washington). The film is regarded as a likely candidate for Oscar nominations in a number of prime categories.
"The story of the weekend is that 'Hurricane' had such a tremendous hold," Universal Distribution President Nikki Rocco said Sunday morning. "I think Super Bowl Sunday could be devastating for pictures like 'Next Friday' and 'Eye Of the Beholder.' We know what word of mouth is on 'Eye of the Beholder.' It got an F on CinemaScore.
"The fact is, 'Hurricane' is a picture that's been embraced by the public. They love the film."
Helping "Hurricane," Rocco said, was that it "received a tremendous amount of positive word of mouth from the Golden Globes. Denzel won, and they talked about how wonderful the film was. Seeing an 8% drop from this weekend to last weekend, that to me is the story of the weekend -- not who was $6.015 million, who's reporting $6 million, who thinks their picture's going to do more than $6 million. It's the story of the hold on 'Hurricane.'"
"Next Friday," last week's top-grossing film, tied for second place in its third week with a still happy estimated $6 million (-25%) at 1,335 theaters ($4,495 per theater). Its total is approximately $39.8 million.
Directed by Steve Carr, it was written by, stars and was produced by Ice Cube. "Friday's" per-theater average was the highest for any film playing in wide release last weekend.
"Friday" got a big boost this weekend, according to New Line Executive Vice President, Distribution, David Tuckerman, from its opening at 44 theaters in Canada. Tuckerman said Sunday morning that the film's Canadian playdates probably accounted for about $500,000 of the estimated $6 million weekend gross.
"We opened Canada Friday, and it looks like it's the biggest urban picture opening ever,"Tuckerman said Sunday morning. "That's the reason why it dropped 25%. We've got, like, $500,000 worth of gross coming out of Canada. It looks like it's going to be about $10,000 a screen (in Canada). Originally, they were going to go out on 10 (screens)."
Tuckerman said the film is being distributed by Alliance in Canada and that New Line was consulting on its release there.
Reflecting on the weekend's estimates, Tuckerman observed, "Everybody, I think, is using 50% of Saturday for Sunday. I think everybody's going to be probably 40% because of the Super Bowl. It's hard to judge. Based on what I'm looking at, we used 50% and I think everybody else used 50%."
Columbia's PG-rated family comedy "Stuart Little" continued in fourth place in its seventh week, holding well with an estimated $4.80 million (-24%) at 3,041 theaters (-110 theaters, $1,600 per theater). Its total is approximately $123.1 million, heading for $140 million or more in domestic theaters.
Directed by Rob Minkoff, it stars Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie and Jonathan Lipnicki.
"Certainly, 'Stuart' will hold up best on Super Bowl weekend," Sony Pictures Releasing President Jeff Blake said Sunday morning. "It's been managing to hold up above the curve every weekend it's been out. We're now in week seven, and we've got in $123 million and, I think, we're on our way to $140 million. Really, it's exceeded everybody's hopes."
Focusing on the Super Bowl's effect on the box office, Blake said, "Super Bowl weekend never has been a good weekend, but people have been very opportunistic the last couple years with 'She's All That,' which was focused for the perfect (teen girl) audience that wouldn't be that interested in the Super Bowl and 'Spice World,' the year before that."
There also was a close race for fifth place. Warner Bros. and Castle Rock Entertainment's R-rated death-row drama "The Green Mile," which placed fifth last week, reported an estimated $4.06 million (-25%) in its eighth week at 2,371 theaters (-112 theaters, $1,712 per theater). Its total is approximately $115.2 million, heading for $130 million in domestic theaters.
Written and directed by Frank Darabont, it stars Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan.
"It'll go to $130 million," Warner Bros. Distribution President Dan Fellman said Sunday morning. "If we get a push from the Academy, maybe a little bit more."
Miramax's PG-13-rated teen-appeal romantic comedy "Down To You," last week's No. 2 film, reported a less sexy estimated $4 million (-47%) in its second week at 1,977 theaters (+6 theaters, $2,023 per theater). Its total is approximately $13 million.
Written and directed by Kris Isacsson, it stars Freddie Prinze Jr. and Julia Stiles.
DreamWorks' PG-rated sci-fi fantasy comedy "Galaxy Quest" slipped one rung to seventh place in its sixth week with a less attractive estimated $3.50 million (-22%) a 2,209 theaters (-50 theaters, $1,584 per theater). Its total is approximately $58.9 million, heading for about $70 million in domestic theaters. Directed by Dean Parisot, it stars Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman.
Columbia's R-rated drama "Girl, Interrupted" skidded one post to eighth in its sixth week with a less compelling estimated $3.30 million (-24%) at 1,935 theaters (theatre count unchanged, $1,705 per theater). Its total is approximately $21.2 million.
Directed by James Mangold, "Girl" stars Winona Ryder and recent Golden Globe winner Angelina Jolie.
Paramount's R-rated drama "The Talented Mr. Ripley" was off one peg to ninth place in its sixth week with a less charming estimated $2.83 million (-24%) at 2,142 theaters (-73 theaters, $1,319 per theater). Its total is approximately $72.3 million, heading for about $80 million in domestic theaters.
Written and directed by Anthony Minghella, it stars Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law and Cate Blanchett.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Buena Vista/Disney and Pixar's G-rated computer-animated blockbuster "Toy Story 2," up one slot in its 11th weekend with a still OK estimated $2.40 million (-19%) at 1,796 theaters (-194 theaters, $1,336 per theater). Its total is approximately $234.4 million.
Directed by John Lasseter, it features the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Kelsey Grammer, Don Rickles, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Annie Potts, Wayne Knight, Laurie Metcalf, Estelle Harris and R. Lee Ermey.
Last weekend also saw the arrival of Universal's R-rated drama "Isn't She Great," placing 17th with a soft estimated $1.34 million at 750 theaters ($1,780 per theater).
Directed by Andrew Bergman, it stars Bette Midler and Nathan Lane in the story of the life of best-selling author Jacqueline Susann ("Valley of the Dolls").
Providence Entertainment's PG-rated family-appeal outdoor adventure "Grizzly Falls" moved into new markets, placing 32nd with a not very scary estimated $0.063 million at 96 theaters ($660 per theater). Its total, including earlier runs, is approximately $0.096 million.
Directed by Stewart Raffill, it stars Bryan Brown, Tom Jackson, Oliver Tobias and Richard Harris.
Warner Bros. R-rated comedy "The Big Tease," set in the world of celebrity hairdressing, opened in 35th place to a calm estimated $0.032 million at 4 theaters in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco ($8,000 per theater).
Directed by Kevin Allen, it stars Craig Ferguson and Frances Fisher.
Fine Line Features' G-rated Oscar contender for Best Foreign Language Film, "The Cup," kicked off at 4 theaters in New York and L.A., placing 34th with an OK estimated $0.032 million ($8,066 per theater).
Directed by Khyentse Norbu, it is the story of attempts to hook up a satellite dish at a Tibetan monastery so its soccer fan monks can watch the 1998 World Cup matches.
Last weekend saw no national sneak previews.
On the expansion front, last weekend saw USA Films R-rated drama "Topsy-Turvy" go wider in its seventh week, placing 24th with a sedate estimated $0.51 million at 71 theaters (+31 theaters, $7,120 per theater). Its total is approximately $1.5 million.
Written and directed by Mike Leigh, it stars Jim Broadbent and Allan Corduner.
USA Films' R-rated comedy "Being John Malkovich" expanded in its 14th weekend, placing 26th with a quiet estimated $0.34 million at 233 theaters (+41 theaters, $1,440 per theater). Its total is approximately $20.6 million.
Directed by Spike Jonze, it stars John Malkovich, playing himself, John Cusack, Cameron Diaz and Catherine Keener.
USA Films' reissue of the PG-rated suspense/cop drama "Rear Window" added a few theaters, placing 33rd with an encouraging estimated $0.033 million at 3 theaters ($11,065 per theater). Its re-issue total is approximately $0.055 million.
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, it stars James Stewart and Grace Kelly. The 1954 film classic was restored by Robert Harris and James Katz.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 for the weekend -- took in approximately $62.68 million, down approximately 9.16% from $69million for the comparable weekend last year.
Last weekend's key film gross for three days was down 17.72% compared to the previous weekend when key films grossed $76.18 million.
Last year, Miramax's opening week of "She's All That" was first with $16.07 million at 2,222 theaters ($7,230 per theatre); and Universal's sixth weekend of "Patch Adams" was second with $6 million at 2,909 theaters ($2,085 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $22.1 million. This year, the top two films grossed an estimated $12.2 million.
STUDIO MARKET SHARES
Based on business by key films, last weekend's top six distributors were the following:
Sony Pictures Entertainment (Columbia, TriStar) was first with three films ("Stuart Little," "Girl, Interrupted" and "The End of the Affair") grossing an estimated $9.30 million or 14.8% of the market.
Universal was second with three films ("Isn't She Great," "Snow Falling on Cedars" and "The Hurricane"), grossing an estimated $8.19 million or 13.1% of the market.
Buena Vista (Touchstone and Disney) was third with five films ("Play it to the Bone," "Toy Story 2," "Fantasia 2000," "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo" and "Bicentennial Man"), grossing an estimated $7.88 million or 12.6% of the market.
New Line was fourth with two films ("Next Friday" and "Magnolia") grossing an estimated $7.50 million or 12% of the market.
Destination Films was fifth with one film ("Eye Of the Beholder"), grossing an estimated $6.21 million or 9.9% of the market.
Miramax (Miramax, Dimension) tied for sixth place with two films ("Down To You" and "The Cider House Rules") grossing an estimated $5.70 million or 9.1% of the market.
Warner Bros. Also had two films ("The Green Mile" and "Any Given Sunday") gross an estimated $5.70 million or 9.1% of the market.
(11) "Fantasia 2000"/BV/Disney: Theaters: 54 (0) (all IMAX in U.S.) Gross: $1.92 million (-6%) Average per theater: $35,570 Total: $21.1 million (worldwide total, including 21 international IMAX theaters, for 31 days)
(12) "Angela's Ashes"/Paramount: Theaters: 611 (+1) Gross: $1.80 million (-44%) Average per theater: $2,946 Total: $6.4 million
(13) "The Cider House Rules"/Miramax: Theaters: 843 (+20) Gross: $1.70 million (-25%) Average per theater: $2,016 Total: $18 million
(14) "Play it to the Bone/BV: Theaters: 1,588 (+32) Gross: $1.67 million (-51%) Average per theater: $1,050 Total: $6.2 million
(15) "Any Given Sunday"/Warner Bros.: Theaters: 2,012 (-189) Gross: $1.58 million (-35%) Average per theater: $783 Total: $72.5 million
(16) "Magnolia"/New Line: Theaters: 1,086 (+9) Gross: $1.50 million (-28%) Average per theater: $1,381 Total: $17.4 million
(17) "Isn't She Great"/Universal (see OTHER OPENINGS above)
(18) "Supernova"/MGM: Theaters: 2,071 (-209) Gross: $1.20 million (-52%)(tie) Average per theater: $575 Total: $12.1 million
(18) The End of the Affair Theaters: 688 (+2) Gross: $1.20 million (-28%) (tie) Average per theater: $1,744 Total: $7 million
(20) "Bicentennial Man"/BV: Theaters: 1,202 (-405) Gross: $1.02 million (-35%) Average per theater: $845 Total: $55.7 million
(21) "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo"/BV: Theaters: 1,143 (-323) Gross: $0.87 million (-39%) Average per theater: $765 Total: $62.1 million
(22) "Snow Falling On Cedars"/Universal: Theaters: 999 (-100) Gross: $0.85 million (-39%) Average per theater: $855 Total: $11.7 million
(23) "American Beauty"/DreamWorks: Theaters: 344 (+77) Gross: $0.69 million (+60%) Average per theater: $1,997 Total: $74.3 million
(24) "Anna and the King"/Fox: Theaters: 730 (-210) Gross: $0.65 million (-29%) Average per theater: $885 Total: $36.9 million
(25) "The World Is Not Enough"/MGM: Theaters: 857 (-32) Gross: $0.58 million (-19%) Average per theater: $671 Total: $124.4 million
(26) "Topsy-Turvy"/USA Films: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(27) "Man on the Moon"/Universal: Theaters: 624 (+32) Gross: $0.35 million (-19%) Average per theater: $560 Total: $33.8 million
(28) "Being John Malkovich"/USA Films: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(29) "Cradle Will Rock"/BV: Theaters: 498 (-8) Gross: $0.30 million (-49%) Average per theater: $605 Total: $2.3 million
(30) "The Bone Collector"/Universal: Theaters: 332 (-9) Gross: $0.16 million (-27%) Average per theater: $490 Total: $65.4 million
(31) "End of Days"/Universal: Theaters: 338 (+2) Gross: $0.15 million (-27%) Average per theater: $445 Total: $65.8 million
(32) "Titus"/Fox Searchlight: Theaters: 16 (+1) Gross: $0.14 million (-6%) Average per theater: $7,778 Total: $0.7 million
(33) "My Dog Skip"/Warner Bros. Theaters: 30 (+2) Gross: $0.11 million (+5%) Average per theater: $3,540 Total: $0.3 million
(34) "Grizzly Falls"/Providence: (see OTHER OPENINGS above)
(35) "Rear Window"/USA: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(36) "The Cup"/Fine Line: (tie) (see OTHER OPENINGS above)
(36) "The Big Tease"/Warner Bros. (tie) (see OTHER OPENINGS above)